Where Are They Now: West Virginia University’s Zhen Zhu

Zhenhua (Zhen) Zhu first became involved in Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTCs) as a graduate student at West Virginia University. He was recruited to participate in EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge as a control team leader while pursuing a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering.

Zhen says the best part of the program was during the second year when his team overcame failure and eventually was able to drive its car around the WVU campus. “That was a very proud moment,” he said.

As a result of his role on the WVU EcoCAR team, Zhen was able to interview and was later hired by dSPACE, the world’s leading provider of hardware and software tools for developing and testing electronic control systems. He is now an application engineer at dSPACE and works on automotive simulation models.

Zhen felt well prepared for life after college as a result of being an AVTC participant. “EcoCAR is a great program – not just for me but for every student. Each has the opportunity to learn hands-on knowledge not gained in class.”

He thinks those who participate in today’s AVTCs will be future engineers for the automotive industry. He knows firsthand that they will benefit from the program despite any challenges they may face, which he describes as part of the learning process.

His advice for the students participating in future AVTCs, “Be prepared to face all the difficulties you will have since you joined the competition. But when you look back, this is really the process of how you gained your knowledge. You may not have another chance to learn control simulation on a real-time system as good as this one.”

Learn more about Zhen’s automotive career from student to engineer: